This is a good idea, because we already know that prison is not a good place to get mental health, or addiction, treatment. Oklahoma seems to understand this fact:
“By the end of June, jails in all 77 Oklahoma counties should be assessing every person arrested for a nonviolent crime for their mental health, potential substance abuse and their risk of reoffending. Oklahoma Interim Mental Health Commissioner Carrie Slatton-Hodges said 73 do so now.
“Counties that have not been using this are sending two times the number of people on to prison than counties that use the offender screening system.”
The thing is, if this helps people get treatment, then maybe they can end up staying out of jail, and go on to a life that doesn’t involve petty crime. It will be interesting to see how this program’s success rate tracks going forward. It could serve as a prime example for other states.